13 die as Burma road deaths soar

Thirteen people, including a young child, have been killed and 43 injured after a truck carrying cement ploughed into a passenger bus in northeastern Burma.

Eleven of those died on 16 March before they reached Keng Tung hospital, around 100 kilometres north of the Shan state border town of Tachilek. An employee at the Shwe Yaykan bus company said the 10-wheel truck was going so fast that it flipped over upon impact.

“Our company’s bus was hit by a cement truck which had lost control of its breaks,” she said. “The truck was going at such high speed that it flipped over. The bus’ passengers were hit hard – everyone was hurt.”

A resident in Keng Tung said that 13 people had since been confirmed dead, although only five had so far been identified. Keng Tung police station was unavailable for comments.

The accident happened on the same day that the Burmese government released statistics showing a massive increase in road deaths in the past year.

A total of 2,173 people were killed and 14,700 others were injured in 2009, compared to 153 and 1,777 respectively in 2008. The figures for road deaths equate to a 14-fold increase in one year.

According to the China-based Xinhua news agency, the figures indicate that Burma lost three percent of GDP annually due to car accidents across the country.

Twenty Buddhist pilgrims died in April last year after the bus they were travelling in fell from a mountain road in Burma’s northwestern Arakan state.

More than two million motor vehicles are in use across Burma, out of a population of around 50 million, but a ban on the import of motor vehicles means that many are old and in poor condition.

Around 90 per cent of passenger cars on the road are thought to be reconditioned Japanese vehicles often made decades ago.

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